A falacy still remains in the minds of the people, that the Golden Perahera Karanduwa or Casket of the Sri Dalada Maligawa taken in procession during the Kandy Esala Perahera is kept as security in the Gediige Vihare or Adhana Maluwa Vihare on the final night.
The belief is that there is in exchange of a sword for the ‘water cutting’ ceremony at the Getambe ferry in the early hours of the Day Perahera . This impression has no truth whatsoever and has no basis. How this belief came into being is unknown.
On the east side of the D.S.Senanayke Veediya ( formerly Trincomalee street ) and almost in front of the main gate of Trinity College is an ascent, a flight of steps and a ‘short cut’ to Asgiri Maha Vihare. Here above the flight of steps is the Adhana Maluwa, once the cremation grounds of the ancient Kings in the Kandyan Kingdom.
Gedhige Vihare is believed to have been constructed in memory of Queen Chandrawathie, the mother of Vikrama Bahu III, who was known to have been a keen worshiper of Asgiri Maha Vihare. It is history that this good Queen was cremated at the spot where stands a Bo Tree within the premises, which is believed to be over 600 years old. Gedihige Vihare itself is built of rock in Hindu style and is surmounted by a dome also built of rock, which is said to be on the ashes of Queen Chandrawathie. There is a Buddha statue built during the same period when the Vihare was built. While the original building stands, the exterior has some additions, also about two hundred years old, but renovated by the Cultural Triangle in recent times.
There are markings of a Poya Maluwa, which perhaps indicate that it would be one of the original Poyage’s where monks retreated for their rituals and Upasampada.
Adhana Maluwa which denotes the cremation grounds, was in reality used for the cremation of royalty. The last being that of Prince Maha Astana the son of Dona Catherina or Kusumasena Devi, who died suddenly Kusumasana Devi suspected King Senerath of having poisoned Maha Astana. After sometime the practice was again revived by the kings of Kandy and to the end with King Rajadhi Raja Singhe in 1798.
Upali Thera from Thailand who brought Upasamapada rites to Sri Lanka during the period of King Keerthi Sri Rajasinghe is believed to have been cremated at Adhana Maluwa. The King also did not forget to take steps to remember Gedhige Vihare as it did accommodate the Sacred Tooth Relic when it was brought from Delgomuwa. In fact by the time the Sacred Tooth Relic arrived from Delgamuwa to Senkadagalapura the auspicious time was past and there was no alternative except to place it at Adhana Maluwa. Since then it has also come to be known as Gaman Maligawa. The sacred tooth relic was shifted to Delgamuwa Vihare in Kuruwita in the Sabaragamuwa Province and kept inside a grindstone, fearing that the Portuguese may capture this sacred object. It was only brought back after the victory over the Portuguese. An interesting ceremony takes place at the Gedhige Vihare, known by a few. On the last night of the Perahera after the golden casket returns to the Sri Dalada Maligawa on the following day or the day of the Day Perahera,the Golden Perahera Karanduwa or Casket is taken to Gedhige Vihare and is kept in the custody of the Mahanayake of Asgiriya. There is another story as to why the Golden Casket is deposited at the Gedhige Vihare and that is said to be to honour Queen Chandrawathie, who had been cremated at this site Once the casket is deposited at the Gedhige Vihare, the Sri Dalada Maligawa Lekam or Secretary who is in charge of the inventory of the articles on the Karanduwa or the Golden Casket comes to the scene and he outlines to the Mahanayake the valuables that are in the Casket. The Mahanayake himself then wraps the Golden Karanduwa in a white cloth , seals the Casket and deposits it in the enclosed area.
On the Perahera day, the Diyawadana Nilame comes into the Gedhige Vihare. While the Lekam or the Secretary reads the inventory every item is checked and the Golden Casket is handed over to the Diyawadana Nilame.
This function has to be carried out by the Mahanayake of Asgiriya alone or if he falls sick, then it is the duty of the incumbent of the Adahana Maluwa. Traditionally he has no power to remove the Golden Perahera Karanduwa on his own. It is then removed by him to be placed on the Tusker for the Day Perahera.
The Diyawadana Nilame remains inside the Gedhige Vihare until the Mahanayake hands over the Golden Casket, for its removal for the Day Perahera. That then ends the Perahera.